Category Archives: love

Valentine’s

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Happy Valentine’s Day! (or Singles Awareness Day, whichever you prefer to celebrate.) 

I’ve never been a huge lover of this holiday, but it definitely has grown on me in the past few years. It doesn’t have to be all about couples, ya know? You can celebrate this day by simply showing others you care… coworkers, your favorite barista, family, a student, friends.

This year I stepped up my non-existant game and sent out some cards to friends, and baked cookies to share at work with students and staff! It feels good having people thank you for something as simple as a card or cookie. (And I’m a sucker for snail mail.)

I put together a playlist this morning with some of my favorite love songs, and it’s been playing all day. It all started with listening to my Frank Sinatra soundtrack while baking last night- that man’s voice is like no other!

Recognize that first song? It’s from Casablanca. My one and only Valentine’s Day tradition (since 2008) has been watching that film. I plan on doing so tonight, while munching on some chocolates (thanks Padre!). My Valentine’s Days have always been super low key, and I really don’t mind it.

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What are your Valentine’s Day traditions?

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Two Little Girls

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If you had asked me back in July to keep my little cousins for a whole weekend, I would probably have looked at you like you were crazy and then insist on keeping them for one night only. Two little girls were too much for this girl to handle. There was too much energy, and not enough room in my queen-sized bed for the three of us.

Until October when my aunt, their mother, died.

Now, I jump at any chance to keep these little girls. Blame it on my nurturing nature or simply on my desire to be a mother someday- these little girls are a priority to me. I want to invest in their lives and be there for them. I know I can never replace the mother they lost, but maybe I can be a big sister… the cool big sister, of course 🙂

I think the events that have happened the past few months have knitted the three of us together in a special way. Sure, those two little girls have their moments…

…like one night at 11:30pm when they would NOT go to sleep, and Autumn was screaming because she was “scared of the dark” and Gabby was mad at me telling me, “I’m never coming back to spend the night with Mere Mere”… I cried myself to sleep once they finally fell asleep from exhaustion a little after midnight.

…or that one time Gabby was yelling at her friend and I told her to stop, and she threw a shoe at me and her friend. I wanted to beat that child’s butt!

…or when I was trying to talk to Gabby and she was hiding under my bed pouting because I told her she couldn’t wear makeup.

don't let the innocent face fool ya

don’t let the innocent face fool ya

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Gabs at her first Duke football game in a shirt I bought her!

Then there are the cute times…

…like when I’m helping Autumn take a bath and wash off, and she puts her hands on my face and looks me in the eyes (she looks so much like her mother) and says something like, “I love you Mere Mere” and my heart melts.

…or when I take Gabby shopping and pick out a shirt and she wears it all the time because I picked it out and bought it for her.

…playing with my PhotoBooth on my Mac and making hilarious faces.

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huh?

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yeah

Those two little girls mean so much to me… more than I ever thought they could or would. 

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nap on Christmas afternoon

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Autumn named that frog ‘Mere Mere’

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birthday girl!

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crazy jumper

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If you were to ask me to keep my little cousins now, I would enthusiastically say, “yes!”

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Falling in Love at a Coffee Shop

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“I think that possibly, maybe, I’ve fallen for you. Yes, there’s a chance that I’ve fallen quite hard over you. I’ve seen the paths that your eyes wander down, I want to come too… I never knew just what it was about this old coffee shop I love so much.”

Ever since I first heard this song by Landon Pigg, it has been my dream to fall in love in a coffee shop.

Silly, yes, but I’m a hopeless romantic. Go ahead and laugh.

In college, at least three days out of the week, you could find me at the local Einstein’s, Dunkin’, or Starbucks in Greenville, SC. Perfect places to study, people watch, and daydream. Killing three birds with one stone latte? Bingo!

Although I was hardly there alone (yes I had friends in college), I always imagined that my studying session or chat with a friend would be interrupted by some mysterious guy walking in, smiling at me and then proceeding to come over and introduce himself. I’m a huge daydreamer, I know!

As dumb as it is, I still daydream about sitting in a coffee shop reading, blogging, or studying, and catching the eye of another customer. I daydream about time seeming to stand still as our eyes meet. I daydream about meeting the man of my dreams and falling in love… in a coffee shop.

“I never knew just what it was about this old coffee shop I love so much.”

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A few Sundays ago, Mom and I were out and about running some errands, when I suggested we stop in Starbucks and grab drinks. Despite the fact that she’s a self-proclaimed “coffee snob” and dislikes Starbucks, she agreed to quickly run in and order my drink to go. Of course, that didn’t happen when she saw the Peppermint Mocha Frappuccino on the menu…she had to get a drink too 😉

While we were waiting for our drinks, Mom was doing her typical scoping the area out, as was I. We both happened to notice that most tables were full of students studying… cute guy students studying. Mom insisted that we stay and relax for a while, all the while she was scheming up a plan.

Unfortunately there was one empty table- towards the corner, where it was hard to see people or watch them. But, Mom was insistent that we sit there and chat for a few. So chat we did. I honestly feel so much more comfortable opening up to people about my life when I’m in a coffee shop setting. Random fact, yes.

When she had slurped the last of her drink (because really, frappuccinos require some slurpage), we stood up to make room for more studying students. As we walked out, I glanced back at one handsome study-er in particular and smiled. I wonder if he even noticed?

In the car, Mom told me of her plan to introduce me to a guy in Starbucks. She had a little script planned out and everything. Yeah her idea and intentions behind it were nice, but on a scale of 1 to 10, having my mother randomly introduce me to a random cute guy in Starbucks ranks up there with MOST AWKWARD SITUATION EVER.

Fast forward one week to the following Sunday. I was meeting a friend to discuss California trip plans before church. As we’re waiting for our drinks, I notice a particular handsome study-er from the week before waiting in line and have a mini freak out.

Twice in one week in the same place?! Why haven’t I been here more often?! How have I not seen this man before?!

My friend and I sit down and start talking excitedly about Cali. We discuss minor details and then start reading the San Francisco for Dummies & Frommer’s Guide to Los Angeles 2011 that I bought in preparation. When it comes to trip planning, I get serious.

I couldn’t help but watch handsome study-er as he got his drink and headed over to sit down and read the newspaper by the window. I couldn’t help but attempt a smile as he glanced my way. I couldn’t help but watch him as he moved to a different chair and pull out his Bible. I couldn’t help but pray for him in that moment. I couldn’t help but wonder…  and wish there were some way to meet him without being 100% awkward like I always am.

With my luck I will probably never see this guy again, no matter how many times I visit that Starbucks. But it was nice, for a few moments on Sunday, to daydream about possible beginnings to a story that included him… and I’ll admit I’ve thought about his face more than once since then.

“I never knew just what it was about this old coffee shop I love so much.”

So here’s to all you other daydreamers out there- may you find love. Whether it be in a beloved coffee shop or on the bus, in the checkout line at the grocery store or at work, online or next door.

 

Thoughts on Thanksgiving

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It’s a little before 8pm and here I am, in sweatpants on the couch blogging.

Today went a lot like I expected. Tears, prayers, too much food. There was also a lot of laughter and reminiscing, so it was a good balance.

Riding home from my grandparent’s house stuffed like a stuffed panda pillow pet, I got to thinking. And that’s never good 😉

I just kept thinking about how blessed we were… are. How much we take for granted daily and how silly it is for us to recognize those things on one specific day each year. Why not be thankful all year long? Why does it have to be one November day? 

All month, I’ve been keeping a running list of things I’m thankful for each day. I’ll be sharing it next Friday, as the month is almost over! (CRAZY!) It’s definitely an exercise that has made me realize the little itty bitty simple things that I am thankful for.

Last night, one of my cousins spent the night with me. This morning as I was still trying to fully wake up (at 7:15, after going to bed at 11:30, mind you!!!) I told her “Happy Thanksgiving! What are you thankful for?” Without a second for thought, her immediate response was “family.”

Kids say the darndest things because honestly, her family has been such a big part of her life lately after the loss of her mother. Read the rest of this entry

The Visitation

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A week after the fact and I decided to post what I typed last Tuesday night after the visitation for my aunt.

(I got home around 10pm last Tuesday, took a hot bath and had a good weep, hopped into bed and started typing until I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer)

Let me just say that I hope I never ever lose a loved one again (impossible, I know)… because I would be a wreck. I was a wreck last week and it was just my aunt. I can’t imagine having to bury anyone closer to me…my mother, father, brother, grandparents…

I guess I’m sharing this somewhat personal post to give you a glimpse into my Tuesday last week. It was rough and although I don’t want to relive it anytime soon, I want to remember what it was like. And I apologize in advance for my scattered thoughts.

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Tonight was so hard.

Read the rest of this entry

Goodbyes in Peru

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I’m weird (if you didn’t already know) … I like change. I welcome it.

With change, however, comes hellos and goodbyes… and I don’t handle those oh so well. Saying bye to my college friends in SC? So hard. Saying bye to a cuddly puppy every morning? Ugh. But there have been goodbyes that were harder. Case in point: saying goodbyes in Peru was heartbreaking. I promised to come back and visit, but really, who knows if I’ll ever make it back?

The hellos in Peru were great! I met so many amazing people (most of them were totally God things) and had such an amazing time with them in Peru. I met people who had never met a Gringa before. People who didn’t speak a lick of English. And I made friendships that hopefully will continue through the years to come (thank you Internet!)

[ignore my extreme Gringa-ness in these pictures. everything I wore was from Goodwill/the back of my closet and I left it there for the local people. and makeup? none for 4 weeks. don’t judge]

precious old woman
her Spanish was crazy though

little Benjamin

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Fireworks

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Fireworks are magical and uniting. 

A week ago, as people were celebrating our nation’s independence all over, I was celebrating in UNC’s football stadium with over 27,000 other people. (article here) Although I’m not a resident of Chapel Hill, and despite the huge crowd, there was a feeling of community… that small-town feeling.

A band played, there was a watermelon eating contest, the national anthem, and of course, the event so many people came for- the fireworks.

I have always loved fireworks.

I remember summers ago when I was a little itty bitty thing, my family would vacation in the mountains. On July 4th, we would drive up to some public viewing point on the side of a mountain, pop open the back of my grandparents’ minivan, and curl up with blankets, in complete awe of the light show going on above us. I remember going to Durham Bulls games as a little girl, and anxiously awaiting the fireworks at the end of the seemingly long nine innings. I remember seeing fireworks at the state fair, and my dad stuffing cotton balls in my ears. I remember beach trips when my rambunctious uncle would set off dozens of fireworks and get in trouble. And then there’s the year he set off fireworks for his little girl; she stood on the front porch yelling, “gimme firework!” Basically, fireworks hold many special memories for me.

The fireworks show from July 4th this year in Chapel Hill was amazing. Right now, it’s considered the most epic fireworks show I’ve seen, and I’ve seen my fair share. Firework shows in the future are going to be hard to top.

I love how the crowd gets silent as the lights quickly shut off and everything goes black. Then, as if from nowhere, the first firework flies up into the air, and with a “boom” it explodes into bright blues and golds. Another one explodes, this time in red and silver. Next is purple and green. The sky is filled with color. As the fireworks increase, the crowd praises the light show with collective “oohs” and “ahhs.” Children scream at the loud noises, but are in awe of the beautiful colors playing in the sky.

a variety of lights, colors & styles

Couples sit cuddled together, unaware (or uncaring) of the hot Carolina temperatures. Hands intertwined, heads leaning on one another… love is in the air as fireworks dance in the sky.

such bright & beautiful lights!

Little ones curled up against their parents’ chests, hands covering up their ears, eyes fixed on the sky above. They laugh at the games the fireworks play overhead; clapping their hands in excitement as a new sparkly set begins.

As all this was going on around me, I just sat there secretly hoping the fireworks wouldn’t end. My eyes riveted with the show. Thoughts flew through my head and I tried to chase them away, only wanting to focus my eyes above, but so many things popped into my head- how much I loved fireworks, thoughts of how thankful I was (am) to live in a country where I have so many rights and freedoms that I take for granted, thoughts about how I hope to someday share an experience like this with my future man, with my future children. It was as if my mind was dancing in rhythm with the fireworks. 

Perfect exploding circle

When the colorful explosions finally ended, the crowd itself exploded into a thunderous applause. I think I speak for everyone there that night, when I say that it was a magical and uniting experience. For the first time in a while, it felt as it everyone was at peace with one another, happy to live together in the United States of America. It felt as if we were all a part of a community, regardless of our backgrounds, languages, or education. I left the stadium with an uncontrollable happiness, unable to erase a smile from my face, and an elated feeling. That special fireworks show blessed me more than I can explain.

July 4, 2012 was the first time that fireworks truly left me speechless and fulfilled. 

Have you ever witnessed a fireworks show that made you feel that way? Are fireworks an annual holiday tradition for you or your family?

Feeling Pretty

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Do you ever have those days when you feel pretty? Or, for all you men out there, days when you feel handsome? It’s different than the way you usually feel, isn’t it???

To be honest, those days are rare for me. I might look pretty all dressed up for church in heels and a dress.  I might look pretty up on stage holding my friends’ bouquet and fulfilling my duty as Maid of Honor. I might look pretty walking around UNC at work smiling at everyone I pass. I might look pretty after a workout. Ok, just kidding on that last one, but my point is that although I may happen to look pretty, I don’t always feel pretty.

I guess some of it goes back to comparing myself to others, and not feeling like I measure up to someone else’s looks. But some of it is a heart issue as well-  If I don’t know that I’m pretty on the inside, why should I feel pretty on the outside? And likewise, if I know I am pretty on the inside, I should feel pretty on the outside. Most of all, I should always feel pretty because I am loved by the King.

 Psalm 45:11 says,

 ~Be here—the king is wild for you.
      Since he’s your lord, adore him  (The Message)

~So will the King desire your beauty; because He is your Lord, be submissive and reverence and honor Him. (Amplified Bible)

~Let the king be enthralled by your beauty;
    honor him, for he is your lord.  (New International Version)

Like the Message says, He is wild for me. And if that doesn’t make me feel pretty & wanted, then I don’t know what would! Just reading those words makes me smile.

The bottom line and the entire point of this post is basically a reminder to myself… that despite my circumstances or attitude or appearance, I should always feel pretty. No, beautiful. I should always feel beautiful. Whether I’m dressed up or in gym shorts, I should feel beautiful because He loves me.

 

on the streets of NYC in Disney